The Texas Copy-Paste Massacre

When I sat down to write a review for the 2022 film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I saw that not only had Darknite beaten me to the punch, but summed it up perfectly. Whilst I don’t need to retread the same ground, I want to focus in on one aspect of the film that stood out to us. Mostly, I need to have a wee rant about this.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has returned in 2022 with a requel, as is the style of the time, and it feels strangely familiar. Familiar in the sense that it’s the same bloody movie as the recent Halloween requel, complete with blood. It’s bizarre how much TCM follows the same story and character beats as Halloween. It’s even stranger to think that the audience wouldn’t call it out given that both movies are banking heavily of 1970s horror brand name recognition. It’s all well and good that you take influence from good art, but feels like a photocopy.

Let’s start at the beginning…in that both movies begin with a group of annoying millennial types sticking their noses where they don’t belong. In Halloween we are reintroduced to Michael Myers through a pair of obnoxious, hipster true-crime podcasters with flimsy journalistic ethics. TCM mirrors this with a gang of influencers/entrepreneurs looking to score big with a plan to bring gentrification to rural Texas. The biggest difference between these characters is that TCM spends much more time spelling out the theme and ethical grey area they occupy.

These characters are responsible for bringing our most bankable characters back into the story. Both Michael and Leatherface have been spending the time since their original bloodbath in isolation, removed from society. Oh, if it’s not clear already, both movies operate as direct sequels to the original films in their respective franchises and negate any other sequels, prequels, remakes, reboots and spin-off. To account for all this time, Michael and Leatherface have been in prison and hiding in an orphanage respectively. They’re both much older than in previous version, but still appear and hulking masses, not missing a beat in their killing sprees. Again, Halloween does this better as Michael is largely unchanged, while Leatherface has lost the family that had always been integral to his character.

Once both have been set loose by the crashing of an emergency vehicle they were being transported in, they land on the radar of our classic final girl. Laurie survived Michael’s attacks in 1978, while Sally escaped Leatherface in 1974. Both characters have been hardened by their experiences and become survivalist recluses keeping prepared for an inevitable rematch. Laurie has been shooting mannequins at her compound while Sally has been butchering pigs and working as a ranger. What makes them distinct from one another is that Laurie sees the return of Jamie Lee Curtis in a star-making role, while Sally’s original actor Marilyn Burns has sadly passed away. Olwen Fouéré does just fine in this new film, but one wonders why this character was brought back unless they were intentionally aping the better film.

With the multi-generational case and the increased levels of violence, these two films are closer in style and tone than some direct sequels. If it is intentional, what purpose does it serve other than giving internet commentators something to complain about. As usual, TCM teases a sequel with Leatherface returning to his old stomping ground. Hopefully they manage to do better with that than Halloween Kills.